Senate passes legislation to dissolve Buena Vista and Inkster school districts

The state Senate narrowly passed legislation Wednesday to dissolve the Buena Vista and Inkster school districts and leave employees in those dissolved districts without jobs in the receiving districts.

Under House Bills 4813 and 4815, which passed the House last week, the dissolved districts’ students and property would be transferred to one or more nearby districts.

School employees in the dissolved districts would not be automatically transferred to the receiving districts, even though their districts dissolved through no fault of their own.

The legislation initially protected school employees in the dissolved districts by providing them with the right of first refusal for jobs in the receiving district, but an amendment by state Rep. Ray Franz, R-Onekama, stripped away all employee protections. Franz’s amendment was fully supported by House Education Committee Chairwoman Lisa Posthumus Lyons, R-Alto.

In response to school employees’ concerns, Lyons said from the House floor: “Pigs get fat — hogs get slaughtered.”

Other key elements of the legislation include:

  • The intermediate school district overseeing the local district would oversee the dissolution. However, ISDs could recuse themselves from the process, transferring authority to the state.
  • When making placement decisions, the ISD or the state would have to consider the number of students being transferred to another district or districts, including how many of those students receive free or reduced lunch, as well as how many are special education students.
  • Thanks to lobbying efforts from MEA’s Public Affairs team, a receiving school district would not have to count its new students’ test scores for three years afterward when determining Adequate Yearly Progress or “top to bottom” calculations.
  • Also thanks to MEA, a receiving school district could not use the test scores of students from the dissolved school district as a factor in employee evaluations for three years.

Originally, the bills would have allowed state officials to dissolve any school district in Michigan, but MEA Public Affairs staff were successful in having it narrowed to Buena Vista and Inkster.

The Senate vote was 20-18, with all Democrats opposed. Joining the Democrats in opposition were state Sens. Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba; Goeff Hansen, R-Hart; Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge; Roger Kahn, R-Saginaw; Jim Marleau, R-Lake Orion; and Tory Rocca, R-Sterling Heights.